No man, but Christ himself has ever seen hell and testified against it. Yet, hell begins long before the sinner is cast into it. It begins here on earth in the works of the wicked. Let us take a look at the beginning of hell for the sinner and even for the saints of God.
Hell For The Wicked
The lusts and desires of the wicked are only the beginning of the literal hell which awaits them come the day of judgment. In their present condition, they know not God nor do they obey the gospel for which Christ died. Homosexuals and lesbians burn in the lust of their own flesh. Paul said concerning such: “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” “Rom 1:26-27 Adulterers and Adulteresses burn in their desire one for another, whose just recompense is the judgment of God. As the Hebrew write reminds us, “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whore mongers and adulterers God will judge.” Heb 13:4 As the wise man of old wrote, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of hell.” Prov 9:17-18 Though the kind of burning withing the sinner is not even close to the kind of miseries that shall make them weep and howl, (Jam 5:1) it only goes to prove that they started the fire which shall consume them at the judgment.
Hell For The Saints
The saints of God walk through hell each day, suffering the trials and persecutions which were promised those of the house of God. 2 Tim 3:12 f; 1 Pet 4:17 It was the apostle Peter who comforted the righteous by saying: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.” 1 Peter 4:12-14 The psalmist David reminds us that “The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup.” Ps 11:5-6 Yet, despite such fiery trials, God has promised eternal life for all the saints who can endure until the end. Rev 2:10
Conclusion: Yes, the saints suffer now, but even as Sodom and Gomorrah reminds us, God will turn the burning lust in their hearts to the burning of their souls. Peter tells us that God turned, “The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) — then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority.” 2 Peter 2:6-10
The only thing that will put out the flames, which first began in the hearts of the wicked, is to obey the gospel of Christ. And consistent with the analogy of burning desire and hell and damnation, water is the only solution which will put out the flames. For only by believing and confessing Jesus is the Christ (Rom 10:9,10) and repenting and being baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) can one be saved. As water saved in the days of Noah, even so baptism saves us today. 1 Pet 3:21 Instead of burning in the lusts of worldly desires, one is buried with Christ by baptism and raised to walk in the newness of life. Rom 6:3,4 Instead of being a servant to sin, Christians become servants of righteousness. Rom 6:17,18 Instead of enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season, one embraces the suffering afflictions with the people of God. Heb 11:25 And instead of burning in hell and damnation forever and ever, one will enjoy an eternity with God in heaven. 2 Thess 1:7-10 f; Tit 1:2